MARCIA SANDMEYER WILSON JEWELRY
Here it is July 1, 2010, eight years since I last made jewelry. Here are my new efforts, starting with a BIRD pin, made of copper and sterling silver, priced $100.
When i was in college i studied art history in a hurry,
because i switched majors junior year and had only 3 semesters to cram everything in,
but i remember reading that Cellini the goldsmith from Italy is hardly represented at all these days,
because his stuff got MELTED DOWN for the value of the gold.
So way back in 1957 I said to myself if i ever make jewelry it will be from something worthless, so that it wont get melted down. My big jewelry hero is CALDER.
I am delighted with this HAPPY CLOWN PIN made from silver, copper and brass scraps all soldered together every whichway. Somehow the result pleases me. I priced it $150 because it's one of a kind and I'll never make this same result again. I used some pieces of copper scraps from the scrap bin at the NewarkMuseum for various elements like I can tell the clown's right shoe was a piece of copper with a circle punched out of it, but of course it's all slopped up with silver solder and I used such a hot torch that some parts melted. The buttons on the shirt and punched with an awl and a very large hammer. That raggedy falling apart look pleases me; it reminds me of accidental art. Found art.
Here's a little copper pin of a BOY's head. I was thinking of my grandsons when I did this pin. Seems to me I could have aligned the eyes a little better. I might go back and punch out the right eye a little more, using an awl from the hardware store. This pin is priced $75.
Let me try and remember how I made this, even tho it's only been a week or so ago. The boy is , I think, a piece of brass, but it could be copper. I use scraps from either my workbox, or the scrap bin at the Newark Museum arts workshop jewelry room. I cut the shape using shears, since I'm too impatient to use a jewelry saw, and also I like the rough look of a cutout. The holes for the eyes and neck are punched with a needle awl or just regular awl, placed on a block of wood, actually a wooden board. The hair is made of two things, a piece of scrap silver and a lightning shaped piece from my friend Ann Davis, who used to make jewelry. That lightning shaped piece is probably nu-gold. The smiling mouth is made from a chasing tool, and the decoration on the shirt is made with one of those electric engraving tools like you use to mark your name on your bicycle.
This CAT pin was cut out of copper. I found the shape in my metalwork box, which means it was cut out by me in 2002, the last time I made jewelry. I punched the "pleasure dots" with an awl. I used to use an automatic punch eight years ago, but now it's broken so I just used any old thing like a hardware store awl and a big hammer. then i reversed the punch for the eyes, so they go in instead of out. To cut out the tail hole I used another kind of punch and die in the Newark Museum jewelry workshop where I have taken classes with Susan Sloan. She's an excellent teacher, but I'm a poor student because I prefer doing things the "wrong" way, sigh. Price, $75.
Another FISH pin from years gone by, with the addition of wire for a fin on top and bottom. The silver is excessive use of silver solder. Like i said, I prefer doing things the wrong way, and that's how come there is so much silver here. Price $75 for this pin. It was cut out with shears, punched with an awl, and decorated with too much solder. Can you tell that another one of my heroes is Jean Debuffet, the artist who loved outsider art?
Now this FISH pin WITH SILVER TAIL pleases me more. I ran a sterling silver teaspoon thru the rolling mill and to my delight the handle split and curled in two directions. So i soldered that onto a copper fish head from my workbox (eight years old probably) and ground down the connection, used an engraving tool and a hammer and awl and voila, here's the result. Price $100.
This HORSE pin started with a lovely piece of textured copper I found in the scrap bin but I beat up this piece so much with a huge hammer that the design is no longer evident except in my memory. This pin is huge. it could only be worn by a very large person because it must be at least six inches wide and would take up a whole neckline all by itself. oh well. I still priced it $125.
One of my favorite pins of 2010 is this VERY IMPORTANT ARMY OFFICER, made of copper and brass with silver solder that drips all over, from the sloppy workmanship of me, the maker, due to my admiration of OUTSIDER ART and accidental art. This pin evolved on its own, starting with the hat, which reminds me of a napoleon kind of hat. It was just a piece of scrap metal that i burned and hammered and decorated with punches, plus I soldered a little dome on top. It's pretty big but I like it. I like the fact that our famous general here has a lovable little personality. I also like the way his collar resembles a hand kind of squeezing his neck, as if he has a hard job, between a rock and a hard place so to speak. Price $150.
This LOVELY LADY pin is also very large. She must be almost 6 inches tall. Her skirt is made out of part of a brass dish that I cut apart with a big shear and also hand shears. Her bodice is a medallion from I think another brass dish. Her arms are braided gold filled wire. Her hair is part of a piece i enamelled but the enamel came off with soldering. I was told that you can not solder enamel so of course I had to try it...Her face is made from a silver spoon that has been hammered flat, and her legs are flattened electrical wire. Price $150.
To give you an idea of the size of the LOVELY LADY pin, here is a photo of me in the ladies room at the Newark Museum just after finishing her and a CAT WITH CURLY TAIL pin, described below.
This vertical cat pin is one of my favorites. Its body is made from a brass bowl cut up with shears; the head is sterling silver, and the tail is curled from copper scraps. It is a very wearable size, as seen from my photograph above. Price $100.
MR POTATO HEAD pin looks like his name. He just evolved from scrap metal soldered together. I like to work like that, so that accidents happen. I like to see what happens. Almost all of my images end up being a person or an animal, however. My inner child isn't very interested in making flowers or abstract forms. Price $100.
Last of the pins I made in the spring of 2010 is this QUEEN pin. She might be an African queen, because her headress resembles an afro. She's made of silver and copper. Her ears are each half of a lid of a tiny sterling salt cellar. her eye was a brass dome that I hammered flat. Her head looks like a copper oval but it might be part of a silver spoon. Her dress is part of a copper bowl. Her hair was copper filigree from my costume jewelry box, hammered flat, and of course there is my trademark silver solder dribbled allover the whole thing. Price $150.
November 7, 2002 I finished this copper FISH pin. I started it years and years ago when I took lessons at Ridgewood NJ adult school under Ani Gedickian, since married and the mother of children.
Now that I am taking lessons at the Newark Museum with Sue Sachs, I am completing a lot of half-baked projects. If you look at the curly cues the clumsy ones were made a long time ago, and the crisp new ones were added today.
The raised bumps were made from a center punch bought at a hardware store. I call them "pleasure dots" because they are fun to touch.
Here is a self portrait as queen I finished October 17,2002. I made it out of scraps of copper, brass and silver from various and sundry places.
the texture on the dress came from a copper plate that I was sorting out to give to the thrift shop but decided to cut it up with tin snips instead. This started from a pie-shaped wedge of a textured plate which I rolled thru the rolling mill until it was quite thin. It is no longer textured, but the pattern stayed anyway. Interesting, eh?
These three pins are about half finished. Sorry that my flash washed out all the details but I like the general feeling of their shapes.
Once again, I am using found materials and scraps, which I solder together, then roll thru the rolling mill, texture with a nail punch and chasing tools, and solder again. I work by trial and error, mostly error.
I used to make jewelry about 10 years ago, but gave it up. Now I'm starting again, taking lessons at the Newark Museum Arts Workshop with a wonderful teacher, Sue Sachs. She leaves me alone to do my own thing yet when I ask for help, she knows all the right stuff.
I like lessons at The Newark Museum because the equipment is new, the classroom is sunny, and I just like the place. I spend all Thursday there, taking jewelry in the morning, doll-making in the afternoon, with lunch in their atrium cafe in between.
Here is a photograph of me at my workbench October 10, 2002. I'm holding a pin in my right hand and the beginnings of a cat pin in my left hand.
Today, October 24,2002, I finished the cat pin. Here is the result. I made it from scraps. The nose is half of a bead made and discarded by my friend Ann Davis. The body of the cat is also made of Ann Davis bead halves. She had soldered them onto some sort of framework as if they were each going to be caps on the end of a kind of openwork tube, but she had twisted the tube when she scrapped it.
I smashed it with a large hammer and ran it thru the rolling mill a few times, anealing it in between sessions.
The eyes of the cat are some sort of brass pimple shapes that I got from goodness knows where. They were in my junk box and I slammed them with a hammer so now they dimple in instead of out. The ears and neck and front leg of the cat are all one piece, part of a flattened silver spoon, if I remember correctly. The split between the ears started as an accidental tear which I encouraged.
The cat's tail is made of electrical wire, stripped romex, which I flattened in the rolling mill and then twisted into a sort of coil, bashed a few times with a hammer. In this photo the tail is polished; up above the copper wire is still black from liver of sulphur. The ghouly look on my face is from wondering if the self timer on my camera is going to work.
The second leg of the cat is made from a piece from the scrap bin of a jewelry class at Ridgewood NJ high school where I took jewelry lessons in adult school at least 10 yrs ago with Ani Gedickian. I love to salvage things from scrap bins of students. They have so much energy in the way they pound and cut out metal.
The two hind legs of the cat are two parts of the same piece of brass, which split in a funny way when it was cut in half. That may also have come from the scrap bin.
I might submit some pieces to the Newark Museum gift shop for a sale of jewelry from our class. I agreed, but only if I can price them "too high" so they can come home again.
When pricing things I make I imagine driving home with the money received, and without my piece. If I am crying in my imagination, then I know I priced it too low. If I am feeling guilty, then I priced it too high. So I try and make a price that will satisfy me without guilt and without tears.
The true value of a piece is how much I like it over a long period of time. Some things grow tiresome; others are a joy to live with, worth every penny and more.
Here is a closeup of the pin in my right hand. I made it out of an old spoon and some scraps of copper and a 14k gold star for one of the eyes. I did not polish it very well so it does not look shiny.
The second pin I made is another woman's head... also made of scraps of brass and copper and silver. I used a nail punch for a lot of the patterning, as well as some chasing tools, and I used a "dapping punch" to make the boom-booms stick out.
I hope to improve my workmanship as time goes on, but the most important thing for me is to have a good time.
When I work at jewelry I feel as if I am in occupational therapy at a hospital somewhere. It's just relaxing, mindless kind of work, hammering and cutting and drilling and soldering. Just plain fun.
Here I am having fun in class. haha.
back to Home Page